Snagging Online Donors Out of Familiar Waters and Keeping Them

It’s a hook, line and sinker. Your organization managed to snag another online donor and every little bit helps you achieve your mission. While a generous online donation will leave your entire organization forever grateful, it would be even better if those donors were invested in your mission enough to make another contribution in the future.

But the hard fact is that online donors are often a hit and run type of operation. Technology has made online donations as simple as the click of a button, but tracking down those donors isn’t as simple of a task.

Here are some ways you can follow up with your online donors to get them out of the computer screen and into your organization.

Thank Them Offline

Sure, an online response as soon as the donor hits the donation button is appreciated and encouraged. But the thanks shouldn’t stop there. Donors know that the response they receive online, however heartfelt it may be, is simply a computer-generated response. That’s why it’s time to go old school.

Take out a pen, paper and an envelope. Even after you sent a thank-you online, donors will better appreciate a letter directed toward them. You know, the kind that comes from the heart. Thank them by name and add in a personal message. After all, without the help of your donors you wouldn’t stand a chance at achieving your mission. Donors will take notice and there will be a better chance that they’ll follow up past the initial online donation.

Timing is Everything

After you’ve genuinely thanked the donors, give them some space to breathe. Although you don’t want them to get away, you also don’t want to push potential returning donors away with incessant emails, letters and other smothering communication.

Instead, make sure to let the donors rest for awhile. Afterwards, determine when it’s appropriate to ask again. This may vary with the individual and the type of organization that you’re operating with. But one thing remains the same—leave a good amount of time between your next ask unless it’s a unique occasion that you’ve determined requires special attention. Otherwise, you’ll scare away one-time donors, and you’ll never get them into your organization.

Take Baby Steps

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your relationship with donors won’t magically appear with the click of a donate button. That’s why you have to work on building trust and establishing a solid foundation before you can move on to bigger and more involved donations. You wouldn’t give away your money to something that you didn’t fully believe in. So make your one-time donors believe.

Start by asking the donors to match a previous donation. Explain to them how their contribution specifically helped your organization. What did you really use the money for? The donors know what your mission is, but if you can be more specific about how the money was spent then they’ll be more likely to see the big picture. Once they see your mission being achieved and where the money’s going, it will help them feel more comfortable about giving in the future. Plus, they’ll be more comfortable getting more involved both online and off.

How have you gotten online donors to come back for more, both at the organization and online again?


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

November 1, 2012

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